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Use Warm Up Activities to Encourage Class Participation


^21st Century Skills All Ages Strategy

Use Warm Up Activities to Encourage Class Participation

If your student is shy or hesitant about participating in class

How To Apply It!

  1. Many students are uncomfortable contributing in class, even when they know the answer. Providing quick, low-stakes opportunities at the beginning of class can help students find their voice and more readily participate during the primary lesson.
  2. Always set ground rules and create a safe environment where all students feel comfortable speaking without judgment.
  3. Expect to develop this activity throughout the year, so students continue to improve communication skills. Adjustments can easily be made by age and class subject.
  4. Have students go around the room and share one thing they are excited about. Always begin with a positive prompt, so students are more eager to share.
  5. Teachers might want to go first to model the type of answer as well as the length of time you want each student to speak. The goal is to help every student find his or her voice, not to use the full class time for sharing.
  6. Be certain the students who need it have sufficient think time. You might let them go later or give them advance notice to prepare before class.
  7. Over the course of the year, use this exercise to model and build communication skills. For example, over time you might ask that students include two specific details, or a comparison to something learned during the semester when answering. You could ask them to use specific names and places, not just pronouns or ambiguous terms (e.g. a lot, stuff, thing). Another session could focus on avoiding hesitations such as "um" and "like".

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

The more low risk opportunities students have to speak, the more comfortable they will be, and the more their speaking will naturally improve. Given the importance of speaking and communication skills in the workplace, this exercise can be used to develop speaking skills in all students, not just reluctant speakers. It also can be a good source of relationship and community building between teacher and student and the students in the class.